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Born and raised in the heart of wine country, Napa Valley, CA, Esteban Soria began cooking at a very young age, quickly discovering his passion and what would soon become lust for the culinary arts.

“I was sick with pneumonia and one day I looked in the fridge and started throwing things in hot pans. All I could feel was bliss and I realized I had found something I could never get tired of doing,” recalled Soria. “The intensity only grew, like a hunger to do and see more. I knew I was discovering who I was.”

That intensity led Soria to be taught by the best in the industry, cooking with some of the world’s most acclaimed chefs, from Chef Masaharu Morimoto to Chef Michael Chiarello.

One of his first culinary jobs was at Santé, Sonoma Mission Inn, where the restaurant was awarded a Michelin star. After a few years working at Morimoto Napa, Soria had a short stint in New York before landing back on the west coast at Kaisho in Bellevue, Washington.

Most recently, he was a Sous Chef at Bottega Ristorante in Yountville, California, where Soria worked closely under Chef Michael Chiarello, helping in the creation and development of culinary products and fare. As a result of being a self-taught cook and learning throughout his career, contemporary American, Mexican, Spanish and Asian styles of cooking have influenced him.

“I feel like when you’re a cook or a chef for so long, we develop this telekinetic connection between our minds and our pallet. When we get in our zone, the two just speak to each other. That might be what sets us apart from people and why we choose to be who we are and do what we do,” said Soria.

Taking his passion for the culinary arts to the next level, Soria is working with the restaurant’s culinary team on MKT Restaurant’s sustainable seafood menu.

“If we aren’t careful with the way we cook or what we cook our lives are at stake. Less fish means less ingredients to have the privilege of cooking with. We need to give back and pay respect to the environment that we use to nourish ourselves,” Soria added.

When not in the heat of the kitchen, Soria enjoys the wilderness. His young children also keep him busy. Perhaps during a bout of the flu, one of them will also follow in their father’s footsteps.